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Moonlight Mania Arrives at JHU Montgomery County Campus

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Moonlight mania swept across the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus as approximately 125 people gathered for a unique opportunity to watch a solar eclipse.

MDBio Foundation held a special event onboard its mobile eXploration Lab, an approximately 1,000-square-foot trailer decked out with sophisticated science equipment. The event was free and open to the public; the lab currently is parked in a JHU Montgomery County Campus parking lot.

Adults and children attended the event, where they munched on eclipse-themed treats: Sun Chips, Milky Way candy bars; Eclipse gum; black and white cookies; rocket icicle pops and moon cheese balls.

To drink?

Capri Sun and Tang.

Computer screens set up inside the lab showed how the eclipse was progressing throughout the country.

To keep the kids – and adults – entertained, MDBio scientists and teachers led several hands-on activities.

For one project, instructors illustrated the relationship between the sun, moon and earth by helping children create a craft using glue, construction paper and split pins.

In another project, attendees made their own pinhole viewers out of aluminum foil and yellow paper.

Shortly before the maximum eclipse, MDBio turned off the lights in the lab. An instructor turned on a single light bulb, representing the sun. Participants used a pencil to poke a hole in a white Styrofoam ball, representing the moon. Each person was the Earth. Holding the pencil and ball, everyone danced around the light bulb to show how the moon and Earth revolve around the sun.

In another activity, participants collected and recorded temperature and climate data for NASA’s Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program. It was an effort to find out how cold the moon’s shadow would get during the solar eclipse. Participants did observe a temperature drop.

Throughout the event, eclipse enthusiasts stepped outside the trailer to take peaks at the sun, using free eclipse glasses provided by MDBio.

Dubbed the Great American Eclipse, the solar eclipse was the first time in nearly a century that a total eclipse crossed the entire country, according to NASA. [A total solar eclipse is when the moon passes directly between the earth and the sun.]  At JHU in Rockville, the moon obscured roughly 80 percent of the sun at 2:42 p.m. – just as rain began to fall. The crowd oohed and aahed and noted the overcast and darkening skies on the previously sunny and steamy day.

JHU MCC works closely with MDBio Foundation on several initiatives to teach children about careers and topics in the sciences, technology, engineering and math.

“It is amazing how many people from Johns Hopkins supported this event, and how many kids have come and put their hands on something that might have just passed by,” said Jennifer Cotteleer, chairwoman of the MDBio board. “They’re going to forever remember this day.”

Many others watched the eclipse from different vantage spots. A crowd of National Cancer Institute employees watched outside the main entrance throughout the afternoon. Another group gathered in the Broschart Road parking lot, watching through glasses and the binocular projection created by a campus tenant and his family.

CATEGORY: K-12 Outreach, In The Community